Contempt of Court

Constitutional Affairs written question – answered on 9th January 2007.

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Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs

(1) how many people have been held in police cells for more than 24 hours in relation to contempt of court proceedings relating to the family courts in each month starting in January 2004;

(2) how many people aged (a) 18 and over, (b) 16 to 17, (c) 14 to 15 and (d) under 14 were given prison sentences by the family courts in each month since January 2004, broken down by sex; and what the (i) longest, (ii) shortest and (iii) average sentence handed down to those given prison sentences was in this period;

(3) how many of those imprisoned after in-camera proceedings in family courts in each month since January 2004 (a) attempted suicide and (b) succeeded in a suicide attempt in prison.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The information requested in relation to contempt of court in family proceedings and attempted or actual suicides following imprisonment after in-camera family proceedings is not collected centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The only data held concern cases in the county court and High Court for breaches of non-molestation orders and breaches of occupation orders under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996. Those figures were provided in my answer of 4 July 2006, Hansard, column 969W. In those cases, the data do not differentiate between remand in custody and sentenced prisoners, nor by age. If a person is arrested for breach of a non-molestation order or breach of an occupation order, the maximum time a person may be held in custody before appearing in court is 24 hours. The court may subsequently order he be remanded. Of those in custody under Part IV, females represent around 5 per cent. or less.

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